Reggie Bullock

Southwest Notes: Wembanyama, Rockets, Pippen, Bane, Clarke

Spurs rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama looked like he was hitting the so-called “rookie wall” early in February when he posted a 5-of-16 performance and a 15-point, one-rebound game within days of each other, ESPN’s Andrew Lopez writes. However, Wembanyama shut down all talk about any potential slump when he put up a triple-double with blocks against the Raptors just before the All-Star break.

Since then, he’s had one of the finest stretches of his young career, averaging 22.5 points, 11.7 boards, 4.9 assists and 4.9 blocks in his last 11 games. Lopez writes that Wembanyama is focused on ending the season on a high note.

How important is it? It’s the whole point,” Wembanyama said. “Coach said it again tonight in the locker room. It’s our job and this is what we’re here for, to win as soon as possible but also in the long run. So there is no other option.

In the past month, Wembanyama has posted that aforementioned triple-double, recorded a 5×5, and is on pace to lead the league in blocks. Lopez writes his teammates have become used to his absurd stat lines.

There’s still moments where we’re like, ‘Oh, what was that? We ain’t never seen that before.’ But I think overall, we’ve seen so much of what he’s done and what he can become and what he is going to become that it’s kind of normal for us now,” teammate Jeremy Sochan said.We just know he can do way more than he’s doing right now, and what he’s doing right now is unbelievable.

According to Lopez, there are no plans to shut down Wembanyama for the rest of the season even though the Spurs have nothing to play for after being eliminated from postseason contention.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets bench players Reggie Bullock, Jock Landale and Jae’Sean Tate are embracing a next-man up mentality after recent injuries to Cam Whitmore and Alperen Sengun, writes Houston Chronicle’s Danielle Lerner. “We talk every day. We just talk about opportunity,” Bullock said of discussions between him, Landale and Tate. “We know that we are the guys that need to be able to step up with guys that’ve been out, and we all got that same mindset of going out and take whatever needs to be done to help the team win.” All three players saw a spike in playing time on Tuesday against San Antonio.
  • After being out since Feb. 12 with an injury, Grizzlies two-way guard Scotty Pippen Jr. returned to the lineup on Wednesday against Charlotte. He scored nine points and 10 assists in his return. As Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Damichael Cole observes (Twitter link), due to the amount of time he missed with injury, the Grizzlies don’t have to worry about Pippen hitting his games played limit per his two-way deal and will likely lean on him moving forward. Pippen was eligible to be active for up to 26 games after signing his two-way on Jan. 16 and the Grizzlies played 27 times since then, so he wouldn’t have been eligible for all of their games anyway.
  • Key Grizzlies players Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke did some “extensive” work this week with Memphis’ G League affiliate, the Hustle, according to Cole (Twitter link). Clarke is now back to playing five-on-five after suffering an Achilles injury last season. Cole expects Bane to be back within the next couple games and Clarke to be back before the end of the month.

Western Rumors: Rockets, Grizzlies, Jazz, Kings, Brogdon

After making several significant changes to their roster during the 2023 offseason, the Rockets figure to remain active on the trade market during the season. League sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that Houston has interest in pursuing further roster upgrades, with Victor Oladipo, Jock Landale, Jeff Green, and draft picks among the team’s potential trade chips.

None of those three players are owed guaranteed money beyond 2023/24 and all are being paid between $8-10MM this season, making them logical salary-matching pieces. Forward Jae’Sean Tate has also generated exploratory interest from playoff-caliber clubs in recent years, according to Scotto, who adds that Reggie Bullock also had several suitors before signing with Houston, making him a name to watch too.

One player we shouldn’t expect to end up in Houston? Bulls guard Zach LaVine. Scotto says the Rockets aren’t involved in the LaVine sweepstakes.

Scotto has more trade-related items of interest from around the Western Conference. Here are a few:

  • Sharpshooter Luke Kennard and forward John Konchar are among the Grizzlies players who are candidates to be dealt before February’s deadline, Scotto writes, identifying the Celtics, Warriors, and Lakers as some of the teams that have “kept tabs” on Konchar.
  • Rival executives think the Jazz may attempt to stabilize their backcourt by acquiring a veteran point guard, according to Scotto. While rookie Keyonte George has played well, he’s more of a combo guard, Scotto explains, naming Talen Horton-Tucker and Kelly Olynyk as a couple potential trade candidates on Utah’s roster.
  • Keegan Murray is the Kings player whom potential trade partners would covet most, but Sacramento views the young forward as an important part of its core and would be more inclined to move future first-round picks in any deal for an impact player, per Scotto.
  • Three executives who spoke to Scotto believe the Trail Blazers could land a protected 2024 first-round pick – or a similar asset – if they decide to trade Malcolm Brogdon this season.

Rockets Notes: VanVleet, Brooks, Eason, Green, Bullock

The addition of Fred VanVleet provides a major upgrade as the Rockets try to move up the standings after three years of rebuilding, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic says in a discussion with Kelly Iko about the team’s prospects. Vecenie notes that VanVleet will be a reliable leader for Houston, which gave about 2,000 backcourt minutes last season to Daishen Nix, TyTy Washington and Josh Christopher.

The Rockets had been using Kevin Porter Jr., who is away from the team due to assault charges, as their point guard even though it’s not his natural position. Vecenie expects improvement just from having a true leader on the court, even though he views VanVleet as the league’s 12th- to 15-best point guard.

Vecenie adds that VanVleet’s shooting was down last season, but it was notably better after the Raptors traded for Jakob Poeltl to give them an effective screener. VanVleet can hit threes, make the right decisions on offense and challenge opponents on defense, and Vecenie notes that those are all areas where the team needed to improve.

There’s more from Houston:

  • Vecenie also likes the addition of Dillon Brooks, but believes his four-year contract might be “a bit aggressive” because of the potential of Tari Eason. Vecenie says Eason was “phenomenal” at Summer League, and there’s a chance that he’ll be better than Brooks by the end of the season. Vecenie observes that Eason provides the same type of high-energy defense as Brooks, but without the questionable shot selection that can bog down offenses. At 40.2%, Brooks had the fourth-worst effective field goal percentage in the league last season.
  • Coach Ime Udoka talked about the need for Brooks to play under control after he was ejected early in Tuesday’s preseason opener (video link). “You have to learn to control your emotions and stay in the game, Udoka said. “You can’t get yourself taken out in the first quarter.” Brooks said his reputation was responsible for the ejection, but referees determined that his low blow to Pacers center Daniel Theis was intentional.
  • Free agent additions Jeff Green and Reggie Bullock are expected to make their debuts with the Rockets on Thursday night in New Orleans, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Green signed with Houston this summer to be a veteran leader after winning a title in Denver last season, while Bullock was added last week for outside shooting help after the Spurs waived him.

Reggie Bullock Signs With Rockets

OCTOBER 4: The signing is official, the Rockets announced (via Twitter). Bullock’s contract is a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum, tweets Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

OCTOBER 3: Veteran swingman Reggie Bullock intends to sign with the Rockets, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Bullock, who finalized a buyout agreement with the Spurs over the weekend, received interest from multiple clubs, according to Charania. He’ll join a Rockets team that had been seeking another rotation player to replace Kevin Porter Jr., who is not expected to play another game for Houston following his arrest last month.

Bullock, who was traded from the Mavericks to the Spurs as part of the three-team Grant Williams deal in July, spent the past two seasons with Dallas, serving as a part-time starter. His scoring average dipped to 7.2 points per game last season, his lowest mark since 2016/17. However, he still made 38.0% of his three-point attempts, which is right in line with his 38.4% career rate.

The Rockets have made an effort this offseason to bring in veteran talent in the hopes of moving up the standings following three consecutive seasons with no more than 22 wins. Bullock will join Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks, and Jeff Green among the team’s veteran newcomers.

Charania’s report says Bullock will sign with Houston after he clears waivers, but’s official transaction log indicates that the 32-year-old was officially cut on Saturday, meaning he would’ve cleared waivers and become an unrestricted free agent on Monday. That means he should be free to complete his deal with the Rockets anytime.

While details of Bullock’s deal haven’t been reported, it seems likely to be a one-year, minimum-salary contract. Houston has an open spot on its 21-man preseason roster and won’t have to cut anyone to make room for Bullock.

Rockets Notes: VanVleet, Brooks, Bullock, Udoka

Structure, stability and order will be the emphasis for a Rockets team that lacked all three during its rebuilding process, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Sporting a roster filled with young players, Houston ranked 27th and 26th in points per possession during the past two seasons, and Iko notes that former coach Stephen Silas’ philosophy of giving his guards the freedom to improvise didn’t work out the way he hoped.

Rockets management signaled an end to that approach by replacing Silas with Ime Udoka and offering big money to free agent Fred VanVleet, who is one of the league’s most efficient ball-handlers. At Monday’s media day, VanVleet said he wants his professionalism and work ethic to become “contagious” with his new teammates.

“A lot of that comes down to systems and schemes, seeing what sets we’re going to run, how coach puts us out there and who’s gonna do what,” VanVleet said. “But ultimately, it’s just having that poise and presence to slow things down and get guys where they need to be. It’s time to rein it in and get some structure and figure out how to maximize these guys’ potential. I think I can be key there.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • Dillon Brooks, the Rockets’ other significant addition in free agency, mentioned “baby steps,” “learning lessons” and “slow process” when talking about revamping the team’s defense, Iko adds in the same piece. Brooks, a second-team All-Defensive selection with Memphis last season, also vows to be a “second voice” to emphasize the messages delivered by Udoka. “You always need a second voice after the first voice commands it,” Brooks said. “I’m gonna do everything I can on the defensive end — if it’s guarding the best player, diving on loose balls, getting physical with another player. I’m about all of that. … I’m just a competitor. I love to compete at a high level. I just feel like a lot of guys want to play in their bubble, and then when the heat gets turned up, they start feeling a way. I do everything to get into a player’s head, make him tired. I’ve been pretty good at it, been working that trade for a while.”
  • Reggie Bullock should have a “significant role” in Udoka’s rotation after reportedly committing to the Rockets following a buyout with San Antonio, Iko states in another story with Shams Charania. Houston has been looking for more shooters, especially with Kevin Porter Jr. unlikely to return, and Bullock is a proven three-point threat.
  • The main message coming out of media day is that rebuilding is finished and it’s time for the team to be competitive, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston made several veteran additions in the offseason to try to speed up the process, but Udoka said the most important factor will be progress from the young core. “Internal growth is going to be the biggest step for us,” Udoka said. “The guys that have been here and have gone through the rough times, we need to see growth and improvement from them.”

Heat Notes: Adebayo, D. Robinson, Lowry, Offseason, Bullock

Now that Udonis Haslem has retired, Bam Adebayo will take over as the new leader of Heat culture. In an interview with Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, Adebayo discusses his transition into that role, which was endorsed by both Haslem and Dwyane Wade.

“You can’t run from it. The thing about it is it’s not going to be easy,” Adebayo said. “It’s not going to be something that obviously you take for granted. But do I feel like I’m ready? Yes. At this point, I’ve done a lot of stuff in my career in my six years that a lot of dudes haven’t done in their whole career. So being able to one, obviously, have D-Wade in my ear the first year and a half of my career and then having UD all the way through up to this point, it’s prepared me for that role. It’s prepared me for the standard, it’s prepared me for understanding what this looks like and how it’s supposed to be.”

Entering his seventh season in Miami, Adebayo understands the fabric of the organization better than anyone. He’s committed to the same ideas of toughness and physical conditioning that Wade and Haslem emphasized, and he talked about the need to build strong relationships with his teammates so he’ll be able to confront them in difficult times.

Adebayo also looked back on the loss to Denver in the NBA Finals this spring and expressed a hope that it will inspire the team to get back to the Finals.

“I feel like losing should always be a motivation because it’s not only you losing, but it’s a lesson at the end of the day,” he said. “What could we have done better? What could I have done better? What could I have done differently? What can I do this year that I didn’t do last year? There’s stepping stones to that.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • Even though Damian Lillard wound up in Milwaukee, trade rumors surrounding the Heat will likely continue, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Winderman notes that the front office tried to move Duncan Robinson‘s contract during the summer and states that the organization considers Kyle Lowry‘s expiring $29.7MM deal to be a trade asset, which is why he wasn’t waived and stretched before the Aug. 31 deadline.
  • The Heat’s luxury tax situation means that anyone with guaranteed money is very likely to make the roster, Winderman adds. Miami has 13 players with fully or partially guaranteed contracts, along with two-way players Jamal Cain, Dru Smith and R.J. Hampton, who may contend for the final roster spot.
  • Winderman writes in a separate piece that the Heat’s failure to add either Lillard or Jrue Holiday in a deal, combined with the fact that their top two rivals in the East just got better by adding the All-Star guards, represents a worst-case scenario for the club.
  • The Heat have “respect” for Reggie Bullock, who reached a buyout with the Spurs on Saturday, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. The veteran swingman could provide outside shooting and defense, but Miami will be limited to a veteran’s minimum offer once he clears waivers.

Spurs Buy Out Reggie Bullock

6:23pm: The Spurs announced that Bullock has been waived, McDonald tweets.

4:09pm: The Spurs and veteran swingman Reggie Bullock have reached an agreement on a contract buyout, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Several contending teams are expected to pursue Bullock once he clears waivers, Charania adds.

There’s no word on how much money Bullock gave up in the buyout, but he had one year remaining on his contract at $10.5MM.

There was speculation that Bullock might be competing for a roster spot with Cedi Osman, who was acquired from the Cavaliers during the offseason, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Bullock’s departure seems to increase Osman’s chances of staying with the team, McDonald adds.

San Antonio acquired Bullock in July as part of the three-team deal that sent Grant Williams from Boston to Dallas. The Spurs also received the option to swap first-round picks with the Mavericks in 2030. Because of the trade, Dallas is the only team that won’t be eligible to sign Bullock once he becomes a free agent.

Bullock, 32, spent the past two seasons with Dallas, serving as a part-time starter. His scoring average fell to 7.2 PPG last season, the lowest since 2018/19, but he still shot 38% from three-point range. It’s his ability to stretch defenses that will make him popular on the open market.

The Spurs were Bullock’s seventh team in his 10 NBA seasons. The Clippers made him the 25th overall pick in 2015, but the only place he stayed for more than two years was Detroit.

The move eases the roster crunch for San Antonio, which has 16 players remaining on guaranteed contracts. At least one of them will have to be waived or traded before opening night.

Western Notes: Doncic, Tenzer, Watson, McGee, Len, Spurs

Luka Doncic isn’t doing himself any favors with his constant complaining to the officials, Tim Cato of The Athletic writes. The Mavericks superstar was tossed from Slovenia’s quarterfinal loss to Canada in the FIBA World Cup. Doncic’s technical fouls in the NBA have risen in each of his five seasons. Cato notes. Doncic has publicly acknowledged over the years he needs to pipe down, but his actions haven’t reflected it. He’s a master at drawing contact but complaining about non-calls serves no useful purpose, as Cato writes.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Nuggets’ new G League general manager, Ben Tenzer, believes forward Peyton Watson will blossom in his second NBA season, he told Bennett Durando of the Denver Post. “(He) has all the potential in the world. I think it starts with his defense and his energy,” Tenzer said. “He’s such a unique player with his size and his ability to cover the court. His shot-blocking ability. I think we were able to see it a little bit when he played with the Nuggets toward the end of the season, how good he can be. So I think for him it starts with the defensive side. The offensive side will come because of his natural ability to be able to handle and attack the rim.”
  • Alex Len and JaVale McGee are expected to make the Kings’ opening night roster and compete for backup minutes at center, James Ham of tweets. That doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering they both have guaranteed contracts. That also means Neemias Queta and Nerlens Noel, who have partially guaranteed deals, will essentially be competing for the final roster spot, assuming Sacramento decides to carry 15 players.
  • The Spurs have 18 players on guaranteed or partially guaranteed deals. So who will be the odd men out? The Athletic’s John Hollinger and Kelly Iko explore that, plus other Spurs-related topics. Khem Birch and Charles Bassey appear to be the most vulnerable, according to Hollinger. If San Antonio is unable to deal one of its guards, then either Doug McDermott, Reggie Bullock or Cedi Osman could be bought out.

Texas Notes: Spurs, Payne, Kleber, Holmes

Following the addition of No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama to their roster, the Spurs appear to be taking a long-term approach to their future, writes Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News.

Finger observes that president/head coach Gregg Popovich, general manager Brian Wright, and CEO R.C. Buford opted to not sign a top free agent into cap space or use their significant future draft equity to trade for a veteran star, instead hoping to develop their current youth around Wembanyama and make bigger moves in the future.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Newly acquired Spurs point guard Cameron Payne may not be long for San Antonio, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. McDonald notes that Payne and other new veteran personnel additions Reggie Bullock and Cedi Osman may eventually be offloaded by the team as it looks to build around Wembanyama.
  • Mavericks big man Maxi Kleber has opted out of playing for his native Germany in this summer’s FIBA World Cup, Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning writes. In withdrawing from the competition, Kleber noted that it was “100% clear that I am not unreservedly welcome,” which Townsend considers a direct response to comments made by Team Germany point guard Dennis Schröder. Schröder seemed to take umbrage with Kleber not participating in EuroBasket competition in 2022. “Maxi wasn’t there last year,” Schröder said. “If you didn’t commit — that was actually the message for all of us — then you won’t be there next year either.” 
  • New Mavericks big man Richaun Holmes has resolved the lawsuit he filed against the parent company of the Sacramento Bee, writes Sam Stanton of The Bee. Holmes sued McClatchy Co. and Bee columnist Robin Epley for defamation after an op-ed column from Epley detailed damaging accusations from Holmes’ ex-wife Alexis. “We’re pleased the matter has now been resolved and Mr. Holmes is enthusiastic about a new chapter in his life as a father and basketball player,” his attorney Camille Vasquez said in a statement. According to Stanton, McClatchy and The Bee did not make any payment to Holmes as part of the settlement.

Mavs Acquire Grant Williams In Three-Team Sign-And-Trade

JULY 12: The Mavericks, Celtics, and Spurs have put out press releases officially confirming that their three-team deal is official. The terms of the deal are as follows:

  • Mavericks acquire Williams (via sign-and-trade), the Spurs’ 2025 second-round pick, and the Spurs’ 2028 second-round pick.
  • Spurs acquire Bullock and the right to swap 2030 first-round picks with the Mavericks.
  • Celtics acquire either the Pelicans’ or Bulls’ 2024 second-round pick (whichever is more favorable; from Spurs), the Mavericks’ 2030 second-round pick, and the right to swap the most favorable of the Wizards’, Warriors’, and Pistons’ 2025 second-round picks with the Mavericks’ 2025 second-round pick.

JULY 5: The Mavericks, Celtics and Spurs are finalizing a three-team trade that will send restricted free agent forward Grant Williams to Dallas, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links).

According to Charania, the Spurs will receive Reggie Bullock and an unprotected 2030 pick swap from the Mavs, while the Celtics will receive multiple second-round picks.

Charania hears Williams will receive a four-year, $54MM contract as part of the transaction, while ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has heard (via Twitter) it’s $53MM. The deal is fully guaranteed and does not feature any options, sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

The Celtics and Mavericks will each receive two second-rounders as part of the trade, Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link). According to Adam Himmselsbach of The Boston Globe, the Celtics will also receive a 2025 second-round pick swap (Twitter link).

Interestingly, the reported figure Williams will receive is the value of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which will be worth $53.34MM over four years. However, since the Mavs are acquiring him via sign-and-trade, they will preserve their MLE and still have “strong interest” in using it to sign restricted free agent Matisse Thybulle to an offer sheet, per Marc Stein (Twitter links). Dallas will be hard-capped at the first luxury tax apron due to the sign-and-trade, Stein notes.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks has a detailed list of the cap complications from the deal (via Twitter). The Mavs are approximately $9MM below the first apron, so they’ll have to clear some additional cap space to have access to the full MLE, which starts at $12.4MM in 2023/24.

They could open up an additional $3.4MM — the exact difference between those two figures — by releasing JaVale McGee and using the stretch provision on his contract, Marks adds. Dallas will also generate a $10.5MM trade exception, equivalent to Bullock’s outgoing salary.

The Celtics, meanwhile, will create a $6.2MM trade exception of their own, which is half of Williams’ projected salary. It would have cost Boston $40MM against the luxury tax to pay Williams’ salary, per Marks.

As for the Spurs, they’ll use some of their cap room to accommodate Bullocks’ $10.5MM salary, according to Marks, who notes they’ll have about $12.5MM in space remaining after the deal.

Himmelsbach was the first to point out (via Twitter) that Williams’ contract is right in the ballpark of what he was rumored to be seeking in an extension before the ’22/23 season started. Jared Weiss of The Athletic hears (Twitter link) the Celtics were willing to meet Williams’ asking price in the fall, but only if the deal included incentives.

Williams, 24, just completed his rookie scale contract and hit restricted free agency after four seasons with Boston. He turned himself into a valuable 3-and-D player in recent years, playing an important role in helping the Celtics make the Finals and Eastern Conference finals the past two seasons.

Since the start of ’21/22, Williams averaged 8.0 PPG and 4.1 RPG on .464/.403/.829 shooting in 156 games (44 starts, 25.1 MPG). His versatile defense was particularly essential in the postseason, and he could be a nice complementary fit next to Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, who aren’t known for their play on that end. It’s also worth noting that Williams is from Houston, about 240 miles from Dallas.

Veteran wing Bullock, 32, is another 3-and-D player who often guards top perimeter players, though his defense slipped a bit last season to my eyes (Bullock’s 116.5 defensive rating was 0.4 worse than the team’s 25th-ranked D at 116.1). He has been a rotation regular over the past two seasons for Dallas and is a career 38.4% shooter from behind the arc.

As Marks noted, paying Williams would have been exorbitantly expensive, but he will be missed. His departure seemed likely after the Celtics acquired Kristaps Porzingis and his $36MM deal in a trade. They’ll reportedly receive some draft compensation to try and recoup some value in the sign-and-trade (they were rumored to be looking for a first-round pick).